Too Much Charisma Can Make Leaders Look Less Effective

worlds-worst-boss_1200x1200*This article was authored by Jasmine Vergauwe, Bart Wille, Joeri Hofmans, Robert B. Kaiser, and Filip De Fruyt, and it was originally published by Harvard Business Review on September 26, 2017.  

Conventional wisdom suggests that the most charismatic leaders are also the best leaders. Charismatic leaders have, for instance, the ability to inspire others toward higher levels of performance and to instill deep levels of commitment, trust, and satisfaction. As a result, they are generally perceived by their subordinates to be more effective, compared with less charismatic leaders.

But our research shows that while having at least a moderate level of charisma is important, having too much may hinder a leader’s effectiveness. We conducted three studies, involving 800 business leaders globally and around 7,500 of their superiors, peers, and subordinates. Leaders occupied different managerial levels, ranging from supervisors to general managers. Our paper is forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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Are Your HiPos Overrated?

PS HiPoMost organizations across the globe make it a top priority to identify and develop high potential employees for leadership roles. Unfortunately, organizations large and small have struggled to recognize those with the most potential and, in many cases, select employees with very little potential at all.

This is largely due to biases in the identification process. Those with charismatic personalities who are likable and good at office politicking most often emerge as leaders. The problem is that the vast majority of these individuals lack the personality characteristics that translate to leader effectiveness. Thus, it should be no surprise that a Gallup poll in 2015 showed that 68% of US employees were not engaged or actively disengaged at work.

In this article, recently published in the Winter 2018 issue of People + Strategy Journal, Robert Hogan, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, and Derek Lusk address the crucial differences between leader emergence and leader effectiveness, and make practical recommendations for HR practitioners to create and implement successful HiPo identification programs.

Another Shade of the Dark Side: Derailing Due to Underuse of Behaviors

Trish-Training IndustryThe dark side of personality concerns behaviors and attributes that derail people – getting them into trouble and making them less effective as leaders. Typically, these derailers appear when people are under stress (e.g., they have a tight deadline, they are dealing with ambiguity, etc.) or when they are not self-monitoring (e.g., they are around people with whom they can let down their guard and not manage their image).

Many times, these behaviors are an overuse of a key strength from the bright side of their personality. For example, a leader who is conscientious, detail-oriented and sets high standards on a day-to-day basis might become perfectionistic, nitpicky and micromanaging when under stress – driving his or her direct reports crazy and garnering the reputation for being impossible to please.

While overuse of strengths is certainly problematic, underuse of a behavior or trait can be equally derailing, but in a different way. Underuse is another shade of the dark side, and it can have significant impacts on a leader’s effectiveness, reputation and, ultimately, career. Underuse of behaviors is usually not as visible or memorable as overuse, but it can be equally damaging.

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‘Learning Agility: The Key to Leader Potential’

LA_Cover_MockupThe war for talent is more fierce than ever, and there is a growing belief that the people who have the highest potential are also your most agile learners. However, defining learning agility, and determining who has more of it, has remained a challenge until recently.

The new book, Learning Agility: The Key to Leader Potential, authored by David Hoff, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Leadership Development at EASI Consult, and W. Warner Burke, Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and developer of the Burke Learning Agility Inventory™ (Burke LAI), effectively defines learning agility, and explains how to measure and apply it in organizational settings.

“Learning agility is one of the hottest topics in talent management and leadership development today,” says Allan Church, PepsiCo Senior Vice President of Global Talent Assessment & Development. “Hoff and Burke’s book on the topic provides a new framework and way of thinking about the construct that is just what the good doctor ordered. Whatever your interest in learning agility, this is a must-have resource and represents a leap forward for the field.”

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Distributor Spotlight: Authentic Talent Capitalizing on Untapped Opportunities in France

Authentic TalentWhen Chloë Touati and Stéphanie Le Ferrand co-founded Authentic Talent in Paris, it was obvious they each had three things in common: passion, energy, and a bold vision to make Hogan’s assessments the preferred assessment tools in the French market. And, if there’s one thing we at Hogan have learned in working with both of them, there are few who can match their drive and desire to improve the French workforce.

In the final edition of the Distributor Spotlight in 2017, Chloë and Stéphanie tell the story of how and why they founded Authentic Talent, and the unique adventures and challenges they’ve experienced along the way. Cheers to a great year, and happy holidays from your friends at Hogan!

Today, we want to tell you a little bit about us, two Paris-based HR consultants at Authentic Talent. Previously, Chloë Touati, who has a master’s degree in HR, was working for a small consulting firm as the manager of Talent Development. Stéphanie Le Ferrand, an occupational psychologist, was working as a senior consultant at Cubiks. In our respective roles, we both have significant experience working within consulting firms and many well-known tests publishers, such as OPP (European distributor for MBTI) and SHL. We understand and are accustomed to dealing with a complex and immature market. Although France is a large country with a lot of test providers, personality questionnaires are not that widely used. 

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The Value of Values for Teams

samuel-zeller-4138Groups are the default human working unit. For most sorts of jobs, people tend to cooperate and collaborate to get the work done. Even when the job doesn’t need collaboration we still prefer to do it in proximity with others – think brew clubs or cruise ships.

When the job requires cooperation, people are selected into teams primarily on the basis of their functional skills. A surgical team is based on the specialist skills of nurses, anaesthesiologists, and surgeons for example.

However, a large body of research has shown that selecting people purely on the basis of functional skills is no guarantor of an effective, cohesive team; deep-level characteristics like personality and values also emerge as essentials for developing social cohesion and enhancing performance (Bell, 2007). You can put world-class talent together on a team, and it may still fail to perform as a cohesive unit. The Cleveland Cavaliers are a case in point, and research on NBA teams shows that adding talent can lead to worse performance (Swaab, Schaerer, Anicich, Ronay, & Galinsky, 2014).

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HR’s Biggest Challenge: Succession Planning

lou-levit-1940In the 1970s, only 8 percent of S&P 500 CEOs were recruited externally. That number grew to 22 percent in 2014. Yet, outsiders are almost 7 times more likely to be dismissed within a short tenure than homegrown CEOs. No matter how much a board learns about an outside candidate, executive stakeholders simply have a better understanding of an internal contender’s strengths and weaknesses, especially as they relate to the specifics of the current business landscape and strategic objectives. As a result of the inherent “information misalignment,” the chance of making a mistake is much higher for a CEO hired from outside the company.

Most stakeholders will admit that they know this already. But what they won’t admit is that the expressed need to bring in an outside CEO is evidence that neither the board, the current (or previous) CEO nor the chief of human resources successfully performed one of their most crucial, shared responsibilities: building a sustainable leadership pipeline that readies executives and potential executives to advance at all levels of the organization. Read More »

Ed Sheeran Is Not Lorde: The Fungibility Fallacy


If you went to a concert to see Lorde and instead Ed Sheeran emerged on stage, you might be pleased to see him, but disappointed because Ed Sheeran is not Lorde and is never going to do the version of Green Light you thought you’d be watching.

The fact that Ed Sheeran is not Lorde demonstrates the economic principle of fungibility. If something is fungible, it means it can be exchanged for a good of equal value. Money is said to be fungible, because it can be exchanged easily for goods of the same value. Around the world, $4-5 can be swapped for a Big Mac. However, Lorde is not fungible.

Although this seems to be common sense, the many incompetent managers, team leaders, or coaches in the world completely fail to understand it. They look at the members of a team in the same way they see batteries in a torch or a tool: a technical skill that can simply be exchanged. While a football team requires a striker, a wing, and a goal-keeper, competence is all that is needed to change out one player for another using this line of thinking (fungibility). But that’s incorrect. Players are more than mere functional capability, and arrive on the field with personalities, styles, and preferences. Messi is not Neymar and both are very different players to Wayne Rooney.

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It’s the Company’s Job to Help Employees Learn

stefan-stefancik-257625When Frederick Taylor published his pioneering principles of scientific management in 1912, the repetitive and mundane nature of most jobs required employees to think as little as possible. Breaking down each task into basic components and standardizing workers’ behaviors to eliminate choice and flexibility could help managers turn employees into productive machines, albeit with alienated spirits.

Fast forward to the present and we see that most jobs today demand the exact opposite from employees: the capacity to keep learning and developing new skills and expertise, even if they are not obviously linked to one’s current job. As academic reviews have pointed out, people’s employability – their ability to gain and maintain a desired job – no longer depends on what they already know, but on what they are likely to learn.

In other words, higher career security is a function of employability, and that in turn depends on learnability. Thus Eric Schmidt notes that a major pillar in Google’s recruitment strategy is to hire “learning animals,” while EY recruiters observe that “to be a standout, candidates need to demonstrate technical knowledge in their discipline, but also a passion for asking the kind of insightful questions that have the power to unlock deeper insights and innovation for our clients.”

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Distributor Spotlight: Compass Advancing Argentina’s Workforce

Awair1In Hogan’s endeavors to become a global brand, we have searched for partners worldwide who believe in our assessments as much as we do. Our distributors are the backbone of what makes our company so effective around the globe, and that is why Hogan would like to spotlight, Compass, a Hogan distributor based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They joined the Hogan network in 2009, and have steadily grown ever since.

With a vibrant, growing economy, Argentina is an excellent place to establish relationships because of its growth potential. Using the Hogan Assessment suite, we hope not only to make a difference for individual companies, but change how people around the globe perceive using personality testing for hiring decisions, so that individuals are hired more effectively on an international level.

Here’s a personal account from Adrian Büchner, the CEO and Experience Director of Compass, on why Hogan work so well for the Argentinian workforce:

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